Behind the Badge: The No-Bid No No and An Email to the Council

I rescued a cat. The beat down on that kid never happened.

FFFF has tracked the obscene waste of taxpayer money – $200,000 so far – on a vacuous, pro-cop PR outlet run by Cornerstone Communication called “Back the Badge.” We have noted a supremely fuzzy contract, approved only by a bureaucrat and managed in the most slip-shod fashion.

On February 2nd, Mr. Travis Kiger sent a communication about it to Mayor Bruce Whitaker. We faithfully reproduce it, here:

Mayor Whitaker,

After reviewing the contract, purchase orders and payments to Cornerstone Communications, along with the communication from the city below, it is clear that the City Manager issued the contract and payments improperly.

City code 2.64.050 and city policy requires a Formal Bid Procedure be followed for awards over $50,000. On 3/28/2013, the City Manager signed a contract with Cornerstone Communications not to exceed $40,000 with no evidence of a Formal Bid Procedure. On 5/20/13, less than 2 months later, the city issued a purchase order extending the contract by 6 months and $23,000. This PO brought the total contract value to $63,000 in the first year. This maneuvering suggests that the City Manager intentionally bypassed the city’s requirement for a formal bid procedure.

This issue is even more alarming considering that City Manager and the Chief of Police had an existing relationship with Bill Rams, the proprietor of Cornerstone Communications, prior to the initial contract issuance.

Additionally, there were $32,000 of payments to Cornerstone Communications from 4/1/14 through 11/1/14 that were made without an active contract or purchase order. This is an egregious error that is further complicated by city management’s pre-existing relationship with the vendor.

There are other problems with this vendor relationship. Purchase orders were issued in excess of the contracted amounts and term without an updated contract. The contract is open ended, vague and does not provide for specific performance. The contract does not require the vendor to deliver performance reporting, nor is there evidence that the vendor provided evidence of effectiveness of deliverables, which is customary in online marketing agreements.

Given the improper nature of the issuance of the contract, which was renewed over four consecutive years without the approval of the City Council, and the sudden departure of the City Manager who oversaw this contract, I strongly believe the council should review the contract and payments to Cornerstone Communications at a public meeting immediately.

Thank you,

Travis Kiger

Email re Cornerstone Communications

Cornerstone Communications Contract and Invoices

Now let’s see what Mr. Whitaker and the City will do with it, if anything.

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22 thoughts on “Behind the Badge: The No-Bid No No and An Email to the Council

  1. Well done Travis!

    I’m glad that you pointed out the fact that ALL contracts with the city over $50,000 need to be formally bid on precisely for this very reason, and had the stones to call them out on the fact that they intentionally under minded the formal bidding process for their own selfish interests.

  2. There are three huge problems here.

    First is the fixed fee deal with no specific scope of work to bill against. that’s b-a-a-a-a-ad.

    Second is the incompetent management of the contract by both Felz and the finance department. I believe it is illegal to write checks to vendors without any budgetary encumbrance or contract.

    Third is the biggest problem of all: the usurpation of policy making by an employee – Joe Felz. Policy is the domain of the electeds meeting in open session. Felz’s spending discretion should have only been exercised in the furtherance of established policy. And spending $5000 per month on PR for the police union that can’t even be assessed for effectiveness is definitely a policy.

    1. Yep, they just submit monthly invoices. No proof that they even did anything, let alone anything effective. And after all, what is the point of “effective” propaganda, except to bamboozle the public.

      The whole damn thing just stinks to high heaven.

    2. Fullerton Harpoon,

      “Second is the incompetent management of the contract by both Felz and the finance department”
      Incompetent? It seems to me that the aggregate figure, exceeding within two months the threshold which requires a bidding process ,falls under the rubric “cunning scheme”, amounting to a circumvention of the rule in order to violate its “spirit” and purpose. The convenient short timing of the transactions point to a knowing the rule all too well, as opposed to a good faith rule ignorance or an overlooking-a careless slip.- I have no doubt a city
      technocrat will put together-“objectively”-a response which will say something along these lines: “the second disbursement should be categorized differently because so and so”
      Haven’t we have enough ?

      1. “amounting to a circumvention of the rule in order to violate its “spirit” and purpose.”

        That’s included in points one and three.

        Point two was that they couldn’t even manage a bad contract correctly.

  3. This is the last straw. Joe Felz has been exposed as a dishonest, manipulative, law breaking public official. We’re looking at damning evidence here. The council needs to take a good hard look at all of the backroom deals executed under his administration.

    1. “Joe Felz has been exposed as a dishonest, manipulative, law breaking public official.”

      In other words, a perfect tool for Flory, Chaffee and especially Fitzgerald.

      1. “Joe Felz has been exposed as a dishonest, manipulative, law breaking public official.”
        just before Joe hit the tree he had a conversation with Whitiker. He must have realized it was either hit the tree or face the music. By hitting the tree it would give him an out diverting the attention of the greater misdeeds?

        1. Pretty unlikely.

          1) Whitaker doesn’t scare anybody – that would take effort.
          2) It was the 13 beers talking.

        1. TOP DEFINITION
          sap
          A fool; someone who is prone to being taken advantage of, or who has been taken advantage of, usually in a situation that is easily perceived by others as foolhardy.

          This is the third time Joe bought vanishing cream off the internet; what a sap

  4. I would also recommend, if not already in place, that all contracts should have the caveat “not to exceed [X number of dollars]”.

    1. I really appreciate the effort that has been put forth on this blog by Travis, David Curlee, Sean Padon, Joshua and others. Those of us who have been engaged in local politics for years really appreciate your skills at knowing how to request information, edit video.and countless other things which make our opinions credible. This lasted example is exactly what I am talking about. Well done.

  5. This couldn’t have been the only time where the city used this technique to avoid the bidding process. I hope someone is looking at the rest of the deals that Joe made… I mean someone besides the new city manager. He should be looking too.

  6. I’m sure there were plenty of other public affairs groups who would have liked to bid on this.

    Hell, maybe Fitzgerald and Curt Pringle Inc. would like a shot.

  7. Joe Felz’ s actions show him to be a “dishonest, manipulative, law breaking “city manager of Fullerton for ten years. My burning question is how many of Felz’s acquaintances from his parks and recreation days now have cushy, overpaid for what they do jobs with city of Fullerton. I know of one person, maybe there are others.

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